tagNon-Erotic PoetryAbout midnight

About midnight


About midnight I lay a chunk of oak in the stove, want the house
to stay warm until I get back, pull on a watch cap, slip
into my old field jacket, slide out the door. With quiet steps
I walk down the hill to the band of trees along the creek. Sit

on a stump to listen to the night, to practice stillness. The little interior voices
begin their normal chatter. "This is dumb." "I'm bored." "I can't see
anything." "It's cold out here." The tiny distractions that interrupt
the start of a meditation. I allow them to natter for a few moments, raise

an index finger to my lips, whisper, "Be silent." A tiny sliver of moon low
in the west. Starlight reveals the bare bones of tree branches above me,
a field of sage grass before me. I close my eyes, eavesdrop on pines
murmuring in the breeze. From off to my right

a screech owl's trilling call. Soft rustle in the carpet
of leaves across the creek. A coon or possum . No self-respecting
bobcat would make such a racket. The critter scurries
away south through the woods. A brief rattle of branches. The wind

has picked up. I pull my cap down to the tops of my ears, my coat
closer around me, listen to the business of the night. Slowly like ice
melts, I turn my head right and left to pick up the small sounds
of the field's dry grass swaying in the wind. Time creeps

by. A trace of wood smoke drifts down the hill from the house. The moon
slowly falls out of sight. A coyote yelps once, gets no answer. At long
intervals I hear cars crunching along the gravel road
a few hundred yards to the east. Then, somewhere in the field

directly in front of me, a soft thump, a shrill squeal suddenly
cut off. A field mouse finds his fate. An owl
finds her supper. I never heard her as she approached,
never hear her as she flies away. Eventually

I begin to feel the chill air moving through my bones.
Stand and shake the stiffness from my legs. I make a bow,
thank the night for sharing its treasures. Climb
back up the hill to the house's warmth.

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